Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

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{Five Favorite Books | 2016}

I start each year with a list of "Must-Read Books." I have to admit my 2016 list was a bit ambitious. Lots of books. Too many. I didn't get to all of them, but I did spend some time with some really, really good ones! Confession: I prefer a new book to a new pair of shoes. At least most days. Don't you just love a good book? One that makes you think and feel something. Reading is good for our brains. It makes us smarter, stimulates our imaginations, helps boost memory function, and even eases tension. It's like exercise for the brain and food for the soul. Good stuff.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2016 (in no particular order).  

1. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst |  Rejection. When I picked this book up, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's one of those books that walks you through some hard spaces with grace and ease. Not only does TerKeurst write with her usual charm and wit, but she lands on powerful biblical truth as our only hope in our struggle with rejection. But, there is hope. This book reminds us of that beautifully.

2. The Most Excellent Way To Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership by Perry Noble |  How do you define good, strong leadership? We have loads of useful resources available to help us grow as leaders. But, this one? It ranks at the top of some of my favorites. The leadership principles in this book are rooted in 1 Corinthians 13. It's smart and engaging.  Read it. It'll make you a better leader.

3. Fervent: A Woman's Guide to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer | This. Book. It's a game changer. I believe the enemy is actively seeking to destroy and devour (1 Peter 5:8). I believe in spiritual warfare. This book was like a shot in the arm for my prayer life, bringing focus and intentionality. I've revisited the pages many, many times over the past year. I imagine it's one of those books I'll keep in regular rotation - reading it over again for the rest of forever. It's powerful, insightful, engaging, and practical. Please read it. You won't be sorry.  

4. Looking For Lovely: Collecting Moments That Matter by Annie Downs | I needed this book. A lot. This book made me laugh and cry and breathe a sigh of relief. It was a powerful reminder to look for God in the everyday moments. Perspective matters. It provided space for a heart check: How do I tend to see things? Where is my focus? Am I looking for the right stuff? The thing is, we all get to decide that for ourselves. If you need a nudge toward a more healthy perspective on life, grab this book. The narrative is incredibly personal. It's like sitting down for coffee with a lifelong friend. That always makes me feel better. This book did, too.

5. Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. by Brené Brown | "If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. This book is about what it takes to get back up." Well, there you have it.  This book is about courage, vulnerability, & resilience. It's about dealing with struggle, disappointment, and heartbreak. The book is not a touchy-feely kind of book. It's challenging and thought-provoking. In the end, it's about embracing the process -- all of it, the highs and lows, the good and the bad -- and owning every part of your story.

These books left an impression. They made me think. They challenged me and encouraged me. Each one taught me something -- something valuable, something that changed me. That's a good read! How about you? What books did you read in 2016 that inspired you or otherwise moved you? Share some of your favorites!

Honorable mention: If nothing on the list piques your interest, these were great book too. Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Meissner), Redeeming Love (Rivers), Boundaries for Leaders (Cloud), Anything (Allen), The Undoing of St. Silvanus (Moore)